An undeveloped backyard in Sidney goes from ho-hum to stand out, becoming an inviting french-inspired outdoor living space with a West-Coast spin. Pretty much the dream patio design.
By Erin McIntosh | Project Photos by Jeffrey Bosdet/Spruce Magazine
When Katie Kroeker asked her clients what their garden looked like in their “wildest dreams,” they shared their vision of sitting around a beautiful fire pit looking out at the ocean. The clients, Deborah Dodge and her husband, Major Philip Dodge, moved into their oceanfront home in March of 2018.
The outdoor space was nothing but mud. Their neighbours had a beautiful backyard, and — as former clients — highly recommended Katie and Merle Kroeker of Pacific Ridge Landscapes. Given that the Dodges’ contractor for their interior renovations had also recommended Pacific Ridge, they called on the Kroekers for help.
“This is our retirement home, so I wanted the house to have a garden that was somewhat low maintenance,” Deborah says. “We’ve done a lot of travelling. One of the places we’ve been to is France, and I love French gardens. I love how casual they are, and I love lavender and grasses, so I wanted that: I wanted an easy garden.”
With this vision in mind, the Kroekers put together a plan to overhaul the Dodges’ lackluster outdoor space and create a French- inspired retreat with a West Coast spin.
“Part of our interview process in the design stage is to really get to know them and how they see themselves using the space because there’s no point in us installing something they’re not going to use or like, so we have to get quite involved in how they want to interact,” Merle says.
The West Coast Influence
Starting shortly after the Dodges moved in, Pacific Ridge went to work. They pulled out
the original deck, which had rotted through, and replaced it with a wraparound Abbotsford paving-stone patio. Pergolas were built using stained cedar, and the most important piece —
a natural gas fireplace — was installed a stone’s throw away from the ocean. Ornamental grasses were planted around the property, and a flower garden was built for Deborah. The view was unobstructed, the plants were colourful and easy to maintain — and the mud was finally gone.
After six weeks of work, the Dodges’ backyard was complete. Deborah and her husband were able to spend the summer in their new space.
“We virtually live outside,” Deborah says. “We eat our breakfast in the morning in the sun under one of the pergolas and move around in the evening to have a glass of wine. We’re at the firepit every other night. We realized that once we were in the house, with the landscaping
done, it kind of added to the esthetic of the inside. When you look outside, you’re not seeing mud, you’re seeing this beautiful garden with beautiful plants and the boulders and the seating area.”
Part of the goal of the outside landscape and patio design was to bring a cohesive feel to the entire home. The older house, which had multiple additions added over the years, suffered from a lack of flow between the interior and outdoor spaces.
The landscaping not only affected the Dodges’ backyard, but their neighbours’ too. A large cedar hedge stood between the Dodges’ property and their neighbours to the north, but it served no esthetic purpose. On Pacific Ridge’s recommendation, the Dodges and the neighbours made the unanimous decision to get rid of it. This opened up the space enormously, resulting in both properties having a better view of the ocean.
The Kroekers say it was one of the rare projects that came out very close to the initial design.
“It kind of felt like it was all a partnership of equals,” Katie says. “We’re all just in it together to create something wonderful; everybody had that shared goal.”
With a strong team, open communication and a vision that saw beyond an expanse of mud, the Dodges’ dream patio design and backyard landscape came true.
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